A Ukrainian paramedic has been released from Russian captivityUkrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced on Saturday. He said Ukraine had been able to secure the release of Yulia Payevska, a civilian parademic who was captured by Russian forces in Mariupol on 16 March.
ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy tweeted that the bravery of Ukrainians had created the opportunity for Europe to “create a new history of freedom, and finally remove the gray zone in Eastern Europe between the EU and Russia”. In his nightly video address, Zelenskiy hailed Brussels’ support for Ukraine’s European Union bid as a “historic achievement”. “Ukrainian institutions maintain resilience even in conditions of war. Ukrainian democratic habits have not lost their power even now.”
russian president Vladimir Putin said Moscow has “nothing against” Ukraine’s possible membership of the European Union. He made the comments on Friday after the European Commission recommended granting Kyiv candidate status of the 27-member bloc. “We have nothing against it,” Putin told Russia’s annual economic forum in St Petersburg. “It’s their sovereign decision to join economic unions or not … It’s their business, the business of the Ukrainian people.”
The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said it was “absolutely necessary” for leaders to speak directly with Putin in attempts to end the war. Speaking to German news agency DPA on Friday, Scholz said: “It is absolutely necessary to speak to Putin, and I will continue to do so, as the French president will also.”
Four civilians died and six were wounded on Friday in Russian bombing in the Donetsk region of the Donbas, governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram.
Dozens of Ukrainian civilians performed military exercises on Friday in fortified positions left by Russian troops in Buchaa town united with war crimes blamed on Moscow’s forces. A sergeant known as Ticha said: “Most of those who are here aren’t soldiers, they’re just civilians who want to defend their country – 50% of them have never held a weapon until today.”
Lithuania has told the Russian region of Kaliningrad it will block the import and export of a large number of goods by rail because of western sanctions, the regional governor said on Friday. The region is home to the Russian Baltic fleet and a deployment location for nuclear-capable Iskander missiles. Governor Anton Alikhanov said the clampdown was “a most serious violation” to free transit and would affect 40-50% of the products imported to and exported from Russia through Lithuania.
Ukraine received a $733m loan from Canada. In a statement released on Friday, Ukraine’s finance ministry said the funds, which were “raised in accordance with the loan agreement between Ukraine and Canada”, would be “directed to the state budget to finance priority expenditures – in particular, to ensure priority social and humanitarian expenditures”.
The Biden administration’s plan to sell four large, armable drones to Ukraine has been paused over the fear its sophisticated surveillance equipment might fall into enemy hands, Reuters reported, citing two people familiar with the matter. The objection to the export of the drones arose due to concerns the radar and surveillance equipment on the drones could create a security risk for the US if it fell into Russian hands.
Russian media has supposedly shown images of two US citizens captured in Ukraine. On Friday, the Izvestia newspaper showed footage of what it said was an interview with Andy Huynh, 27. The Russian channel RT also posted a photo of a man it identified as Alexander Drueke, 39. Drueke’s mother, Lois Drueke, told the Guardian she believed the clip was authentic and it gave her “great hope”.
US Republican senators on Friday asked TikTok chief executive Shou Zi Chew about reports the social media site had allowed Russian state-approved media content but barred other videos. The senators said they were “deeply concerned” that TikTok “is enabling the spread of pro-war propaganda to the Russian public”. TikTok said in a statement the company was looking forward to continuing to engage with members on these issues and answer their questions.
A group of international investigators and experts have visited war-torn areas near Kyiv, including a burnt-out school, as part of Ukraine’s ongoing investigation into alleged war crimes. One expert told Reuters: “The scale of these crimes, the systematic nature of them, it very clearly appears to be crimes against humanity … It runs the whole gamut of violations of international humanitarian law.”
Viktoria Apanasenko, a civic volunteer from Chernihiv, Ukraine, has been chosen to represent the country at the 2022 Miss Universe pageant. “Victoria helps the capital Naive [a Kyiv-based restaurant] cook food for battalions of the armed forces and the elderly,” said a statement by Ukraine’s Miss Universe organisation. “She and her friend are engaged in addressing food, medicine and hygiene products for children, the elderly and internally displaced people.”